Sport and Politics The Necessary Bed Fellows

imageSport and politics are two of the most divisive things there is and the old adage is that the two should not be mixed. Yet over the last few weeks it has been highlighted that they are very much.

The FIFA investigation and corruption scandal has involved politicians speaking out and the UK’s minister for sport Tracey Crouch announcing it was “laughable” that Mr Blatter was not in a way responsible for the actions of others in FIFA.

It was but one example. All sports are in someway linked to politics and especially when it comes to funding. Money from governments whether through semi autonomous organisations such as Sport England or through building projects for stadia ends up within sport and never without controversy.

This month saw the passing of great of the hockey world. Not a great that has hoisted an Olympic Gold Medal or Stanley Cup but one that has been an ever present in the sport for 55 years and had a career spanning minor league, junior and NHL hockey. It is not a player but an arena the Colisee du Quebec.

The fact the arena, most famed for being the home of the Nordiques from 1972 – 1995, has remained in use until now is also a political decision. Provisional and local money was not granted in the 1990’s to build a new home for the Nordiques and was a factor in the sides move to Denver whilst the new Videotron Arena has been funded by the city of Quebec and the provisional government in part to land a new NHL franchise in the coming years.

The incoming Videotron Centre and outgoing Colisee

The incoming Videotron Centre and outgoing Colisee

Closer to home too politics will play a major role in the future of the Manchester Phoenix. In fact it has played a role throughout their existence with fighting within Trafford Council over the future of the rink in Altrincham. That is about to get bigger as Manchester City Council and the Manchester Combined Authority will get involved with the planning applications for their proposed new rink within the city centre.

Up on the Fylde coast as well there has controversy over the rink that opened without planning permission but was subsequently granted it forcing another rink out of business.

Whilst sport and politics don’t mix it is necessary. Thankfully in ice hockey though political decisions are not about who is or should be in charge of the sport. They are though about the history and future of the sport. The lose of the Colisee in Quebec where players like Bealiveau and LaFleur graced the ice is a demise in the history but who is to say that the Videotron Centre with its modern facilities will not produce or inspire the next great. Equally in Manchester if the new arena gets the green light its central location could be key in returning the sport to the fore of peoples minds in Manchester. These though are political decisions.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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